The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 71-25

September 13, 1971
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
A lawyer who is also a city councilman may represent a client in a civil matter related to an
accident investigated by one of the city’s police officers as the lawyer will not need to challenge
or impeach the testimony of the officer.

EC 5-21

Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:
An inquiring member of The Florida Bar seeks advice on whether he, as an
attorney and also a city councilman, may represent an injured party in a civil
matter wherein the police officer investigating the accident involved is an officer
of the same municipality as the attorney-councilman.
As a normal rule, there is nothing improper in the representation, notwithstanding the fact
that the policeman is from the same city. There may be some instances wherein the
representation could become improper. These could occur should the attorney-councilman be
required to attempt to impeach the policeman’s testimony or were there circumstances of a
peculiar nature wherein the policeman might feel he was under pressure to color his testimony in
behalf of the attorney-councilman. Ordinarily, however, a policeman is called to establish
measurements, occupancy of vehicles and other scene-of-accident facts which cannot be in
serious dispute, and from this general viewpoint of testimony, no impropriety exists. The
Committee suggests the inquirer must evaluate whether he would assault the policeman’s
testimony or place the policeman in an embarrassing position because of the attorney’s position
with the same city. For general controlling principles, see EC 5-21 and Florida Opinion 71-12.
The attorney further asks if he may ethically represent a prosecuting witness as to a
traffic accident or the defendant charged in a traffic accident in a municipality other than that
wherein he is a city councilman. In the event the investigating police officer from the
attorney-councilman’s city is to testify, he should avoid the representation even though the
municipal court proceeding is in a different city. However, other than this restriction, there is no
ethical reason why the attorney-councilman cannot represent a defendant or witnesses in such
court proceedings.